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The relative importance of sediment and water column supplies of nutrients to the growth and tissue nutrient content of the green macroalga Enteromorpha intestinalis along an estuarine resource gradient
Kamer, K.; Fong, P.; Kennison, R.L.; Schiff, K. (2004). The relative importance of sediment and water column supplies of nutrients to the growth and tissue nutrient content of the green macroalga Enteromorpha intestinalis along an estuarine resource gradient. Aquat. Ecol. 38(1): 45-56. dx.doi.org/10.1023/b:aeco.0000021041.31385.19
In: Aquatic Ecology. Springer: Dordrecht; London; Boston. ISSN 1386-2588, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
    Dissolved inorganic matter; Estuaries; Gradients; Nitrogen; Nutrients (mineral); Phosphorus; Sediments; Water column; Enteromorpha intestinalis (Linnaeus) Nees, 1820 [WoRMS]; INE, USA, California, San Diego Bay [Marine Regions]; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Kamer, K.
  • Fong, P.
  • Kennison, R.L.
  • Schiff, K.

Abstract
    Large blooms of opportunistic green macroalgae such as Enteromorpha intestinalis are of ecological concern in estuaries worldwide. Macroalgae derive their nutrients from the water column but estuarine sediments may also be an important nutrient source. We hypothesized that the importance of these nutrient sources to E. intestinalis varies along a nutrient-resource gradient within an estuary. We tested this in experimental units constructed with water and sediments collected from 3 sites in Upper Newport Bay estuary, California, US, that varied greatly in water column nutrient concentrations. For each site there were three treatments: sediments + water; sediments + water + Enteromorpha intestinalis (algae); inert sand + water + algae. Water in units was exchanged weekly simulating low turnover characteristic of poorly flushed estuaries. The importance of the water column versus sediments as a source of nutrients to E. intestinalis varied with the magnitude of the different sources. When initial water column levels of dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) and soluble reactive phosphorus (SRP) were low, estuarine sediments increased E. intestinalis growth and tissue nutrient content. In experimental units from sites where initial water column DIN was high, there was no effect of estuarine sediments on E. intestinalis growth or tissue N content. Salinity, however, was low in these units and may have inhibited growth. E. intestinalis growth and tissue P content were highest in units from the site with highest initial sediment nutrient content. Water column DIN was depleted each week of the experiment. Thus, the water column was a primary source of nutrients to the algae when water column nutrient supply was high, and the sediments supplemented nutrient supply to the algae when water column nutrient sources were low. Depletion of water column DIN in sediment + water units indicated that the sediments may have acted as a nutrient sink in the absence of macroalgae. Our data provide direct experimental evidence that macroalgae utilize and ecologically benefit from nutrients stored in estuarine sediments.

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